Cricket Bat Willow

The original Cricket-bat Willow is generally supposed to have been found by Dr James Crowe in the parish of Eriswell, Suffolk in 1803 (‘Willows’ S C Warren-Wren (1972), but Smith (English Botany, 34: t.2431 (1812) mentions a ten-year old tree, planted at Heatherset, Norfolk and blown down in 1800, so it would appear that the variety was already known, at least locally, by 1790.

It soon gained a reputation for vigorous growth … a 53-year old tree cut down at Boreham, Essex in 1899 which was 101 feet in height, 5 feet 9 inches in diameter, weighed upwards of 11 tons, and provided wood for 1179 cricket bats. It is often said that only the female tree is known, but both sexes occur, though as the female is alone considered of first-class quality for bats, as is exceptionally light and stong, the male is seldom planted.

Meikle’s ‘Willows and Poplars of Great Britain and Ireland’ (BSBI Handbook 4, 1984)